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View Full Version : Pros/Cons of Musepack



Reckase, Erik Nathan
2004-03-16, 08:16
Dan asked about the reasons why someone might want to use Musepack as their
format of choice, and so I thought I'd go through a number of the reasons
that I considered when switching to MPC for my *lossy* storage solution
(from MP3). (aside: Musepack *was* essentially a dead format until a few
months ago, when the Hydrogenaudio clan essentially ponied up $$ for the
developer to get a new PC (apparently his aging machine wasn't good enough
to do development anymore.) He has incorporated our patch request into the
source, but I haven't been able to get a copy of the new files yet - I'm
working on it.)

1. MPC/Musepack, while not winning any listening tests outright
(statistical ties), did place extremely well when comparing quality with
original wave files in a double-blind test. (See
http://www.rjamorim.com/test/128extension/results.html for more information)

2. MPC is a natively gapless format. This means that albums with
continuous audio between tracks (e.g. Dark Side of the Moon) will be much
closer to the original intent. There is a hack to MP3 files that include
the number of samples in the LAME header of the MP3 file that essentially
makes MP3s gapless, but there are few players (software or hardware) that
support this feature.

3. MPC is a significantly faster at audio compression than MP3 - probably
an order of magnitude.

4. MPC files are often significantly smaller than comparably encoded MP3
files. While the ratio varies from CD to CD, I've seen as much as a 20%
difference between MPC and MP3 rips of the same CD at similar settings.
(~128 kbps, VBR)

5. MPC uses APE tags instead of ID3 for metadata storage. Personally, I
can't stand ID3v2 tags, simply because of the complex keys used to index the
content. APE tags are extremely straightforward, key=value combinations,
very similar to Vorbis tags.

Personally, I have about 1000 cds, all of which I have ripped to FLAC files
on my home server machine. At some point I'll get a Squeezebox to route all
of this lossless music to my receiver (cash flow issues), but for now, the
server is a work in progress. I've converted all of these FLAC rips to
Musepack files stored on my work PC for casual listening on my computer.
The gappy nature of MP3 is what got me searching for a better solution in
the first place; I don't rely on portable players much, so that's another
reason I don't mind using Musepack. If I want to listen to something on my
car stereo, which supports mp3, I prefer to keep the gaps out of it and so I
burn a redbook CD from the FLAC rip (or the Musepack rip - I can't tell the
difference with my aging ears in the car). I have little reservations
transcoding from MPC to MP3, if necessary, since mp3 players tend to have
lower quality headphones/speakers attached to them. If I do transcode a
full disc to mp3 (from FLAC or MPC), I'll usually do it to a single file so
that the gaps (or lack of them) are preserved like on the original CD.

~1040 CDs
12113 Musepack files
69.7 GB

I'll be happy to discuss these issues in more detail, if anyone's
interested.

Erik

kdf
2004-03-17, 01:08
Erik,

Do you have any official work on the licensing for the binaries?

I can't find anything on any of the sites. If the license issues are clear, I
can commit the patch to add mpc support, and we can include the binaries with
the server for windows and linux

-kdf